Pandemic Pale Recipe

So, every beer has a story. This beer started when I opened my freezer and found a half pound of Centennial hops that had been completely forgotten about. I love this hop variety. It features in some of my favorite beers. Described as:

…balanced bittering and aromatic hop with a decidedly American nature and uniquely pungent flavor. An intense citrus aroma with pronounced lemon notes also gives off some floral qualities…


I didn’t want to see this bag go to waste. This pound had been bought to make a clone of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. It would be a shame to throw these hops out because they had sat in the freezer too long and lost their aroma, flavoring, or bittering properties. I sat there with my nose in the bag smelling these poor forgotten pellets, cursing myself, wondering what to do with them. Only one thing to do with them, make a hop forward beer and see how they taste.
The question with this beer is, am I too late? Will these old hops found in the back of the freezer still be any good? What have they lost? Can I perceive it?

Where to Start?

First step, select a style to go after here. I want to be able to put the hops in this beer firmly out front, and see how they taste, smell, and bitter. I also wanted to select a style that was less then 15 SRM and less than 6% ABV [for a now abandoned Spring Beer competition]. After digging through the BJCP styles in BeerSmith, I decided on American Pale Ale. It’s the perfect style to evaluate a hop variety.
This style is a perennial favorite of mine. It focuses primarily on the hops, but still needs to have enough malt to provide some balance to them. Two row for the base, and Victory for the specialty grain. I like Victory, because it brings a bit of biscuit & nutty character that broadens the base note of the beer. Cal Ale yeast because I love this yeast, you can use it to make anything.
I am also a fan of Tasty McDole’s Hoppy Water Profile. It has treated me well over the years. Water is one of those areas where I could seriously stand to learn a bit more, but until then I have Tasty’s water profile to lean on.

Pandemic Pale

Recipe Details



2-Row9 lbs
Victory Malt1 lb


NameAmountTimeFormAlpha %IBU
Centennial30 g60Pellet10%39
Centennial30 g30Pellet10%30
Centennial30 g15Pellet10%19.4
Centennial30 g0Pellet10%0
Centennial40 gDry – 5 daysPellet10%0
Centennial40 g Dry – 2 daysPellet10%0


NameLabAttenuationTemp Range
American Ale – 1056Wyeast75%60-72 F

I moved to the Robobrew mash & boil system a little over a year ago, and it has been a massive improvement over my old Frankensystem. Don’t get me wrong, I love that old system and spent a lot of time & money on it, but this simple mash & boil system has reduced the friction in my brew day and incresed my enjoyment in my brew day.

My lil Bucket of Malt Joy aka Robobrew

Brew day went relatively smoothly. Was higher on the pH and lower on my volume than I would have liked to have been, but in general all the numbers came in about where I was expecting them to.

Nerdy Session Measurements

pH: 5.60
PreBoil Grav: 1.038
PreBoil Volume: 24.3L (6.4 gal)
OG: 1.048
Post Boil Volume: 19.7L (5.2 gal)
FG: 1.010
Batch Volume: 17.4L (4.6 gal) Little on the low side, didn’t quite have a full keg due to all the hop mass in the bottom of the bucket

Fermented at my standard 67 for Cal Ale yeast. It took two days to make it to the turn, and began ramping up to the Diacetyl rest. My little Tilt died on the last batch, thought I had fixed it. I was wrong. But I would like to say that their customer service group is awesome! I have a new one ready to go for the next batch that goes in the bucket.

I was happy with fermentation of the beer. I love Cal Ale, because it’s so damn dependable. It ran down to the bottom of fermentation in a little over a week and through diacetyl rest in a little over a week. Following the diacetyl test, it was ready for packaging and carbonation.


The finished beer is pretty. Light gold in color with a thick, billowy head. It might be too much head actually, it has been tough to pour with the amount of foam that it produces. The aroma is good but somewhat more subdued than I would expect for the aggressive hop bill. It really falls down on flavor though. The bitterness is completely over the top. The bitterness far outstrips what I’d expect from this beer based on the aroma alone. There are times when I really enjoy it, primarily when it is over-carbonated, but when the carbonation is low the bitterness overwhelms the biscuit of the Victory malt and the mitigated hop flavor all take a back seat to the bitterness. It almost has a Malort-like bitterness at times; kind of medicinal and lingering. It’s strange because it’s not astringent or mineral, but definitely persistent.
I would not call it a success, but I wouldn’t call it a failure. It will be drank in this time of crisis. I feel like what I’ve learned from this experiment is that the hops lost flavor and aroma in an amount not proportional with the loss of bitterness. I think a control experiment is necessary too though to really vet that conclusion. It would be good to remake this beer with fresh hops to see how the flavor & aroma of this beer compare.


You can find the BeerXML File here.

Subway Singer

He stands upon the subway platform naked. His only armor, his smile. A broad blinding thing it disarms you, almost stops you from seeing the sadness and fear behind his eyes. Almost.
An old man holding onto his dream, smiling and hoping you don’t see that scared boy. That boy wanting to make his mother proud. That boy that broke her heart. He steps up from the shadow, and pours out his pain.
People stop. They watch.
His song rings out through the platform. The edges of the platform seem to blur a bit, the dinginess fades. They are transported.
For a moment the armor is gone, thin eggshell that it was, and he is powerful.



Books I’ve Read in 2016

So these are the things that I’ve been reading so far this year. It’s interesting in a navel-gazing sort of way to look at this sort of list. What I’m getting out of this is that I am really digging Marko Kloos. I would definitely recommend checking out The Frontline Series, it’s some of the best Military Sci Fi out there!

Title                                                             Author                                            Date

  1. The Color of Magic                                  Terry Pratchett              7-Aug-2016
  2. I Am Legend                                              Richard Matheson          8-Jul-2016
  3. Death Masks                                              Jim Butcher                      1-Jul-2016
  4. Gods of Risk                                               James S.A. Corey            1-Jul-2016
  5. Bossypants                                                Tina Fey                          27-Jun-2016
  6. Agincourt                                                    Bernard Cornwell        15-Jun-2016
  7. The Power Of Habit                                 Charles Duhigg               9-Jun-2016
  8. Angles of Attack                                       Marko Kloos                20-May-2016
  9. Blind Man’s Bluff                                     Sherry Sontag             18-May-2016
  10. Lines of Departure                                   Marko Kloos                 11-May-2016
  11. Aurora                                                          Kim S Robinson           9-May-2016
  12. The God Engines                                       John Scalzi                     1-May-2016
  13. How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours   Andrew Mayne           27-Apr-2016
  14. There Will Always Be a Max                 Mike Underwood        22-Apr-2016
  15. Promise of Blood                                     Brian  McClellan         22-Apr-2016
  16. The Wright Brothers                              David McCullough      28-Mar-2016
  17. City of Blades                                            Robert Bennett            13-Mar-2016
  18. In the Garden of Beasts                         Erik Larson                    10-Mar-2016
  19. Summer Knight                                        Jim Butcher                   24-Feb-2016
  20. A Canticle for Leibowitz                        Walter M. Miller Jr.       8-Feb-2016
  21. Mockingbird                                              Chuck Wendig                5-Feb-2016
  22. Foundation                                                Isaac Asimov                 26-Jan-2016
  23. The Magicians                                          Lev Grossman                18-Jan-2016
  24. Terms of Enlistment                              Marko Kloos                    4-Jan-2016
  25. The Churn                                                  James S.A. Corey           1-Jan-2016